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Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Tuesday, 20 July 2010 15:03 UK
Michelin star chef Sat Bains employs foraging expert
Chef Nanna Vestergaard foraging for flowers to use in dishes for Restaurant Sat Bains
Chef Nanna Vestergaard learned how to forage in her native Denmark

Nottingham's only Michelin star chef has added local wild flowers and nettles to his menu after discovering the talents of a new employee.

Sat Bains realised Nanna Vestergaard's ability when she brought into the kitchen honey nettles and rosy garlic picked metres from the restaurant.

She said: "A basic rule [of foraging] is if it tastes really horrible usually it isn't good for you."

Mr Bains had been using the ingredients but was buying them in from Kent.

Nanna Vestergaard, who is from Denmark, only started work at Restaurant Sat Bains in June 2010 but she soon brought her inherited skills to the kitchen.

Nanna grew up in the Danish countryside where, she said, foraging is a natural pursuit for her. However, she believes it was the English that used to be the great foragers.

"[The English] have been doing it for generations but now it has been forgotten," said Nanna.

"If you read English plant books you realise [they] had a great tradition of doing it."

Sat Bains had been paying a forager but now they rely on Nanna.

Unless you're one hundred per cent sure, you shouldn't be picking anything at all
Nanna Vestergaard, chef

"Both me and the other chefs will go out and they can take pictures of what I'm picking, so next time they can do the foraging for themselves."

While the benefits of foraging are obvious, Nanna had a warning.

"Unless you're one hundred per cent sure, you shouldn't be picking anything at all."


Most people would recognise a blackberry, and other soft fruits, which will soon be abundant all over the county.

However, why do we still buy it from the supermarket?

Richard Ford, from The Grocer Magazine, believes it is about consumer convenience and hygiene.

"Collecting blackberries for a pie takes quite some time whereas you could nip into the supermarket and buy a couple of packs in a split second.

"Also, sadly, we've been brought up to only eat things that are very clean."

Flowers foraged by chef Nanna Vestergaard for Restaurant Sat Bains
Flowers foraged by chef Nanna Vestergaard for Restaurant Sat Bains

Despite an abundance of soft fruits much of the UK's fruit is imported from abroad.

"Some manufactures will need to import it because it's cheaper," said Richard.

"Also, I don't think we grow quite enough to satisfy demand.

"We have a ferocious appetite for strawberries in this country and I'd be surprised if British growers could fulfil that quota."

But not all of our wild food and flowers is going to waste.

Emilia Hanna is from Abundance, a Nottinghamshire group who harvest fruit on a non-profit basis.

"Come Autumn-time there's hundreds of apple, and pear, trees and a lot can go to waste," said Emilia.

"We're trying to avoid waste and share it out to people who need the fruit and will appreciate it."

Community groups such as a local drugs rehabilitation charity benefit from the work Abundance do.

"If you just start looking you'll see hundreds and hundreds of fruits that you can have for free," said Emilia.

"It's zero carbon and there's no packaging from the supermarket."

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